The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 rotary wet/dry shaver draws plenty of user praise for its close, quiet shave; wet/dry performance is an extra bonus. There are a few complaints about the "bulky" and "flimsy" charger, however. This shaver is also sold as the Philips Norelco Shaver 8700 (Est. $220), which is the same model plus a Jet Clean cleaning station.
Experts love it; users agree. The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 wet/dry rotary shaver, formerly known as the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250X, claims the top spot -- by just a hair -- in an expert test of rotary shavers. It also earns the only unreserved recommendation in a comparative test published on Gizmodo.com. "I often found myself using it to clean up after testing the other units -- using it wet or with shaving foam, the SensoTouch consistently shaved trouble spots that the others missed," writes author Andrew Tarantola.
However, a rotary shave isn't for everybody -- and we found a few comments from users who say the Shaver 8100 struggles with coarse beards, or gives a clean shave but leaves some irritation behind.
Shaver good, charger bad. The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 "fits perfectly in the hand and has a good feel to it," writes one user at Amazon.com. However, the charging stand that accompanies it is described as bulky, flimsy and fragile. Nobody likes that you have to travel with the charging stand -- which won't fit into the shaver's carry pouch.
A few comments state that the wide plastic border around the cutting heads keeps this shaver from reaching stubble near nostrils. Others say it tends to spill clippings everywhere if you don't clear the "beard dust" holders constantly.
Users say the Jet Clean stand that comes with the otherwise-identical Shaver 8700 does a great job; its single cleaning cycle starts automatically and takes about two hours to complete.
One of only a few truly quiet shavers. The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 gets a very good rating for its noise level in expert testing, and users agree. "It is so quiet that I never hear him shaving with it," writes one wife posting to Walmart.com about her husband's shaver.
Another user, posting to Amazon.com, relates: "I can't describe how impressive it is to have an electric razor that doesn't sound like a weed whacker. This guy sounds like a cellphone vibrating, very little noise at all. It's like getting a shave and a mini facial massage at the [same] time."
You're taking a leap of faith. The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 and 8700 are covered by a two-year warranty and a 45-day money-back guarantee. However, we found a fair number of user complaints that said when the razor suddenly stopped working during the warranty period, Philips customer service wasn't very helpful. One of the necessary replacement parts (usually the charging stand) was often being back-ordered with no estimated time of arrival -- a common issue for users.
You're supposed to replace the three cutting heads (Est. $50) about once a year. If you have the Shaver 8700's Jet Clean stand, expect to pay about $11 for a 10-ounce bottle of Jet Clean solution, which lasts for about a month of daily cleaning.
The editors of ConsumerReports.org ask a panel of 16 testers to try out 13 foil and rotary shavers, including the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250X (the former name for the 8100). The testers take a shaver similar to the one they normally use at home for a week, then return to the laboratory to help evaluate the shavers and their performance for factors including noise and efficiency.
Review: Electric Razor Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
The author tests four electric razors on up to three days' growth of stubble and recommends only one without reservations: the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D. He says he frequently found himself using it to clean up trouble spots that other shavers had missed.
Review: The Best Electric Razor, Andrew Tarantola, Jan. 16, 2013
This reviewer creates video and text reviews of many shaver models, sometimes comparing two or more against each other. He recommends the Philips SensoTouch 3D 1250X as the best rotary shaver, although in a previous review he noted that it didn't do so well with his coarse beard. (He awarded it an honorable mention in that previous review, though, because many readers wrote in to recommend it -- presumably for other skin/hair types.)
Review: Finding the Best Electric Shaver...Sounds Like a Job for an Expert, Tyler Stokes, Not Dated
More than 1,200 Amazon.com reviewers give this version of the Philips SensoTouch 3D 1250X -- without the Jet Clean system -- an overall score of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Although most users say they love this shaver, we found a number of complaints about product durability and Philips customer service.
Review: Philips Norelco 1250X SensoTouch 3D Electric Razor (Series 8000), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014
More than 450 Amazon.com users review the 1250XCC/42, which comes with a Jet Clean stand and slightly improved display. They give it an overall score of 4.3 out of 5 stars; most say they love the shaver, but we found a number of complaints.
Review: Philips Norelco 1250X SensoTouch 3D Electric Razor with Jet Clean System (Series 8000), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014
Nearly 90 Walmart.com reviewers give this shaver a 4.6-star average rating out of 5 possible. The quiet operation is a particularly big hit, but the reviews include a few criticisms of the charging and cleaning stands.
Review: Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D Electric Shaver with Jet Clean System, 1250X/42, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of May 2014
More than two dozen Drugstore.com users rate the Philips Norelco 8100 model shaver (formerly the 1250X/40) at about 4 stars out of 5 possible. For the most part they say this shaver is a great value and easy to use, although comments here are much briefer than those at other sites. The biggest complaint is that it doesn't give a close enough shave.
Review: Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 Model 1250X/40, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of May 2014